Arts shot down

Arts shot down

Jas Gill, Staff Writer


When the Contra Costa School Board met up to discuss the school of arts in Concord, many were disappointed with Board President Daniel Gomes.

On Wednesday, January 14th, a proposal for a county-wide performing arts charter school was shot down by the Contra Costa County School Board.

The vote was unanimous to decline, but the rejection itself isn’t what has people upset.

Board President Daniel Gomes insulted many in the audience, his response was recorded and shared for others to see. Gomes believed a school for science or robotics would be better than a school for arts.

“These are programs that are vital to our society,” Gomes said. “It’s well and good that performing arts are part of our society, but they’re not the vital part of our society.”

As soon as this was said the quiet attentive crowd broke out in chatter. Some even walked out, troubled by the fact that the president of the school board had pushed aside the arts.

A singer in MV’s choir program, Victoria DelMonte, surrounds herself with the arts.

“Music and the choir program here has engulfed me every moment of the day,” DelMonte said. “I honestly dedicate about ninety percent of [my] time to arts. You can’t just say arts are not a vital aspect of everyday life, because it is my life.”

Gomes further displeased people by chiding those who had walked out and spoke out against him in the crowd. However, he didn’t stop at that.

“We might be wasting lives by supporting this,” Gomes said.

A man supporting the charter then yelled back to say that he wanted to waste his life with arts.

The trustees listened to speakers for and against the school before their final say. Most of the trustees turned down the school due to audition issues or insufficient information in the petition, unlike Gomes.

Reactions are split. Some agree with not having the school, even if they believe arts are important, but some are outraged with the turnout.

Mr. Connor, the drama teacher at MV, was disappointed by the comments made by Gomes.

“As someone who has made it a career, I think arts education is vital to our society,” Connor said. “Education in the arts is an integral part of the development of each human being. Sufficient data exists to overwhelmingly support the belief that study and participation in the fine arts is a key component in improving learning throughout all academic areas. I believe that we need to create more opportunities for students to be introduced to the arts. I don’t know if the Concord School of the Arts had the best plan going in, but I applaud the idea of what they wanted for students.”

Mr. Connor went further and contacted the entire Board of Education, receiving responses from Mr. Gomes and Mike Maxwell. Gomes recanted his original statement.

“I believe that an arts education can contribute towards producing well rounded and productive citizens,” Gomes said.

Mr. Maxwell, a MV alumni and former educator, believes arts are critical and hopes to visit MV’s campus.

    Neil McChesney, the leading petitioner for the school, says he will come back after revising the petition to create a district charter if not a county-wide one. The Stampede reached out to contact Mr. McChesney, but he has not responded.